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the coronavirus crisis

Fauci: Americans without underlying conditions could get COVID-19 vaccine by late March, early April

A COVID-19 vaccine is officially being administered in the United States, and Dr. Anthony Fauci is predicting the "vast majority" of Americans could receive theirs by early summer.

Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, spoke to MSNBC on Monday after the first American health-care workers began to receive Pfizer and BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine will first be available to those at the highest risk, including health-care workers and then those with underlying health conditions, but Fauci told MSNBC that "the normal, healthy man and woman in the street, who has no underlying conditions" will "likely" be able to get it by "the end of March, the beginning of April."

He noted, however, that this timeline will "depend on the efficiency of the rollout." Fauci also said that the more important question is when the U.S. could get enough of the population vaccinated to achieve herd immunity.

"At the end of the day, the real bottom line is, when do you get the overwhelming majority of the population vaccinated so you can get that umbrella of herd immunity?" Fauci said. "And I believe if we're efficient about it, and we convince people to get vaccinated, we can accomplish that by the end of the second quarter of 2021, namely by the end of the late spring, early summer."

Fauci added that "by the time we get into the fall," the "level of infection will be so low in society, we can start essentially approaching some form of normality."

Earlier on Monday, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar predicted in an interview with Today that the COVID-19 vaccine could be available for the general population as early as the end of February.

"Late February, in the March time period, I think you'll start seeing much more like a flu vaccination campaign," Azar predicted. Brendan Morrow